By Jake Donovan
A trio of injury-shortened bouts on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights was capped with Delvin Rodriguez escaping with an 8th round TKO victory over Freddy Hernandez in their televised main event.
Scores of 78-74 and 77-75 in favor of Rodriguez, trumping a more realistic 76-76 card in their super welterweight bout at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. The cards originally proved moot, when the Mohegan Tribe Commission elected to go to the videotape, ruling that a pair of right hands produced the fight ending cut under Hernandez' left eye.
Rodriguez was sharp with his jab early on, but the weapon wasn't as effective once Hernandez managed to make a simple adjustement. The fight truly became a fight in round two, as Hernandez repeatedly scored with two-and-three punch combinations.
Both fighters picked up the pace considerably in round three. Rodriguez had Hernandez backing up early on, but momentum shifted the moment he got nailed with a unique combination - a headbutt followed by a left hook. The headbutt left a cut over his right eye, while the left hook had him briefly shook.
Rodriguez struggled to regain his rhythm in the middle rounds, even if enjoying more success. Hernandez refused to back down, allowing himself to score with right hands even when Rodriguez beat him to the punch.
Despite the cut over Rodriguez' eye, it was Hernandez who came out round after round with offensive amounts of grease on his face. Referee Harvey Dock had a say in the matter, ordering the visiting gatekeeper back to his corner to have his face cleaned up.
Hernandez obliged and then proceeded to take the fight to a seemingly sluggish Rodriguez, who suddenly looked like an old 33-year old. A clean right hand towards the end of round seven punctuated a solid round for the durable Mexican, who showed no signs of slowing down.
His aggression proved to be a disadvantage in round eight, a huge bounceback round for Rodriguez. Hernandez was pinned along the ropes absorbing power punches, however a headbutt proved to be the final blow in the bout. A second clash of heads in the round was ruled to have produced a cut under Hernandez' left eye, prompting referee intervention.
Replays showed Rodriguez landing two clean right hands prior to the final headbutt. The first landed in the same spot where a previous headbutt (which was ruled by the referee earlier in the round) caused a small cut. The blood began to flow when Rodriguez landed a second right hand that snapped back the head of Hernandez before a clinch was initiated.
The blood was free flowing, bad enough to where the ringside physician was forced to bring an early end to the third consecutive fight on the card. The bout originally went to the cards, but the majority decision was overruled to instead read as a TKO injury stoppage.
Either way, Rodriguez picks up his second consecutive win as he advances to 28-6-3 (16KO).
Hernandez heads back to Mexico a hard-luck loser, having lost four of his last five as he falls to 30-5 (20KO).
Chris Howard pulled off his second straight upset with a technical split decision win over previously unbeaten Issouf Kinda in the evening's co-feature.
The bout was cut short after six rounds, when the referee determined that Howard could no longer see out of his grotesquely swollen left eye. The injury was caused by a headbutt, which meant the fight went to the scorecards. Kinda was a 59-55 winner on one card, but matching scores of 58-56 on two cards gave Howard the shocking win.
The unbeaten Kinda was informed early that he was in a fight. Howard's frequent time spent in training camp with rising boxing superstar Adrien Broner has paid recent dividends, including an upset win over Bayan Jargal earlier this year in this very venue.
The tide turned around the third round, when Kinda settled into a groove and found range for his jab and power shots. Howard remained game throughout, keeping the fight close enough to where Kinda needed to do more than merely throw punches to sway the judges.
A right hand briefly stunned Howard towards the end of a fifth round he otherwise controlled. Action slowed in round six, with neither fighter really landing anything of significance. The most notable moment of the round came after the bell, when the ringside physician decided that Howard's left eye was too severely damaged to continue.
The split decision win advances Howard's record to 16-2-1 (7KO). Kinda suffers his first loss as a pro as he falls to 16-1 (6KO).
A televised swing bout between Constantin Bejenaru and Excell Holmes ended in a No-Decision when the bout ended midway through the second round. A nasty gash sliced along Bejenaru's forehead forced the referee to stop the heavyweight contest.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: